By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Quite a few different techniques could prove successful in this week's FLW Pro Circuit Super Tournament on the upper Mississippi River. In a change from recent tour-level events over the past couple of weeks, the derby is unlikely to be dominated by dropshotting a Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm.
Pools 7, 8 and 9 of the country's second-longest river, which flow along the border that Wisconsin shares with Minnesota and Iowa, are a power-fisherman's mecca. During the summertime, both largemouths and smallmouths can be caught just about anywhere from the main channel to as far as a bass boat can traverse in the numerous backwaters. Fish are stationed both shallow and (relatively) deep and when located, they're usually willing to bite. Limits will be routine and 3- to 4-pound kickers will be the separators.
The event, which starts today and runs through Saturday, is the second of the three combined-tour events that feature the full FLW Pro Circuit field (150 competitors), plus 54 anglers from the Bass Pro Tour. It's the second-to-last tournament on the Pro Circuit regular-season schedule, which will wrap up in 2 weeks at Lake Erie (where the Flat Worm will shine once again).
Before diving deeper into the bite, here's some lowdown on the fishery itself.
BassFan Lake Profile
> Name: Mississippi River (pools 7, 8 and 9)
> Type of water: Floodplain river with numerous locks and dams
> Surface acres: Unavailable
> Primary structure/cover: Deadfall timber, wing dams, brush, grass, weeds, lily pads, rip-rap
> Primary forage: Crawfish, shad, bluegill
> Average depth: 5 feet
> Species: Largemouth are predominant, but quite a few smallmouth live here
> Reputation: A good numbers fishery where the larger specimens often gang up in specific places
> Weather: Cooler mornings, but pleasant and mostly rain-free through the weekend
> Water temp: High 70s to low 80s
> Water visibility/color: Somewhat tinted to heavily stained
> Water level: Normal pool
> Fish in: 10 feet or shallower
> Fish phase: Post-spawn/summer
> Primary patterns: Flipping, spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, frogs, swim jigs, plastics, shallow crankbaits, topwaters
> Winning weight: 60 pounds
> Cut weight (Top 10 after 3 days): 39 pounds
> Fishing quality (1=poor, 5=great): 4 for the Mississippi River
> Biggest factors: Finding big groups of fish
> Biggest decision: When to pick up and move
> Wildcard: A 4-pounder – they're not as common here as other places, thus magnifying their importance
For a up-close look at the stretch of the Mississippi River that’s providing the playing field for this week’s event, check out this contour map, courtesy of Navionics:
Better than Last Time
The last time FLW's top trail visited the Mississippi River was May 2017, when Brian Schmitt won by averaging a little more than 15 pounds per day. The BPT held its inaugural Redcrest Championship on the venue last August and Edwin Evers caught 63 scoreable fish (1 pound or heavier) in the Championship Round to win by 45 pounds over runner-up Greg Hackney.
The river is in better fishing condition than it's been in several years due to the lack of torrential rains that have pounded it in recent summers. There are daily fluctuations in its water level, but its current state is considered normal pool for this time of year. Perhaps even more importantly, very little of it is too muddy to hold fish.
"The bass bite has been pretty strong," said Mark Viner at Emma's Midway Bait Shop in Onalaska. "Guys who've put in their time have been catching numbers and big fish."
The biggest weather factor in the region this year has been heat, which has pushed the water temperature past 80 degrees at times. That has a greater percentage of the bass population hanging out in deeper water than is usually the case in late July.
The three pools are very similar in layout and have been producing about equally well in local events. The event will launch from Stoddard in Pool 8, giving competitors the option of locking up or down, or of avoiding that process entirely by remaining in the home pool.
Keep An Eye On
Here are a few anglers whom BassFan thinks could fare well in this event:
> Tom Monsoor – The La Crosse resident is 71 years old, but still brims with enthusiasm for the sport and relishes the opportunity for another "home game." He'll know where to find some better-than-average fish.
> Matt Stefan – Another Wisconsin resident with vast experience on the river. Another top-10 like the one he posted on the tour's last visit would secure his spot in the TITLE Championship next month.
> Fred Roumbanis – He's won a triple-A event on the river and was 5th in last year's Redcrest. He'll put his frog-throwing acumen to good use.
> Andy Morgan – He was the 3rd-place finisher in FLW event 3 years ago and was 17th at Redcrest last August. Shallow-water power-fishing is his forté and there's no northern venue that suits him better than this one.
Anglers will launch at 7 a.m. CT each day from Stoddard Park in Stoddard, Wis. Weigh-ins on days 1 and 2 will be held in the same location beginning at 3:30 p.m. Weigh-ins on days 3 and 4 will get under way at 4 p.m.
Attendance is limited to competing anglers and essential staff only. Fans are encouraged to forgo the daily takeoffs and weigh-ins and follow the event online through the expanded four-day “FLW Live” on-the-water broadcasts and weigh-in coverage at FLWFishing.com.
> Weds., July 29 – Mostly Sunny - 86°/61°
- Wind: From the NNW at 7 mph
> Thurs., July 30 – Partly Cloudy - 83°/60°
- Wind: From the NE at 8 mph
> Fri., July 31 – Mostly Sunny - 83°/60°
- Wind: From the NNE at 6 mph
> Sat., Aug. 1 – Mostly Sunny - 85°/62°
- Wind: From the WNW at 5 mph